A trip to Key West can get out-of-control expensive, from the cost of flying down there to sky-high hotel rates. The good news is that once you arrive, you can entertain yourself while spending nothing but energy.
Here’s where you can save your pennies, so you have some left to visit Dry Tortugas:
Explore the Cemetery. Personally, I love visiting cemeteries when I’m traveling. They put me in a contemplative mood and, at their best, they’re very artistic. As a result of the hurricanes and mutable landscape in the Keys, many tombs here are weathered, crumbling, and decaying in the most beautifully macabre way. On a lighter note, Key West has long been a quirky, off-beat place, and you can find some funny epitaphs, the most famous one being “I Told You I Was Sick.”
Watch the sunset, or sunrise. There’s a party every night to honor the sunset, and once you see the sky erupt in scorching oranges and pinks, you’ll see what the big deal is. Most people hoard around Mallory Square to watch, which is a phenomenal vantage point, but the crowds can be insane. Try to find some breathing room further south along the water, or simply get a fragmented view elsewhere in town. Alternately, watching the sunrise along the eastern side of the island is fantastic, and highly underrated. Take an early morning walk along Smathers Beach or hang out on the White Street Pier.
Walk through Old Town. Key West is very walkable, so much so that renting a car would just be a hassle. The town’s Spanish Colonial style houses, grand verandahs, and tropical gardens are so picturesque you could wander and snap photos for hours. The further east you go, i.e. away from the beach and waterfront resorts, the calmer the vibe. You could also walk down to the southernmost point in the continental US, which is also free, but it’s often mobbed and, in my opinion, totally overrated.
What’s your favorite free activity in Key West?